The Android Tablet Circle Of Life: Acer Tries Anew While Dell Bids Adieu


The Android tablet community has little choice but to keep plugging along in their uphill quest to establish Android as a tablet competitor to the iPad, but clearly not all devices will make it along the way. Dell said goodbye this week to its first attempt at an Android tablet, while Acer is going to try a smaller design in hopes of standing out.

First things first: Acer’s Iconia A100 made its debut Friday morning in North America. It’s a 7-inch Android tablet, smaller than the iPad and Android 3.0 tablets from Motorola (NYSE: MMI) and Samsung but in line with devices like the HTC Flyer. The smaller size helps Acer undercut the price of the iPad, with a starting price of $329 for an 8GB version and $349 for a 16GB version, as more vendors try to see if consumers will consider cheaper alternatives to Apple’s iPad.

One thing they definitely have not considered is the pre-Honeycomb Android tablets that a few companies tried to push in 2010, considering they’ve barely embraced the Android 3.0 version designed specifically for tablets. As a result Dell has decided to pull the plug in its Streak 5-inch tablet, which was released last year but did not sell in anything approaching noticeable volume amid confusion over whether it was a bulky phone or a cramped tablet.

Such experimentation, however, is good for the Android tablet community. Unless you believe that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is entitled to the tablet market by birthright, it seems plausible that someone, somewhere has the design chops and engineering skills to produce a tablet that can rival the iPad, especially if given a boost from companies that would like to avoid Apple’s approach to features like in-app subscription billing.

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